This section of the News and Media Services department site tracks stories in print and broadcast media that feature Auggie faculty, students, and staff. The area also is home to material developed for University-related programs, events, and more.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Sweden and Finland’s subsequent decision to join NATO have brought the issue of NATO expansion to the forefront of global security and attention. Recognizing the vital importance of these issues, four Minnesota Urban Debate League high school students will debate the implications of Nordic countries joining NATO in a showcase debate, and the Swedish Ambassador and Norwegian Deputy Chief of Mission will speak, respond, and take questions about Ukraine, Russia and the future of European security.
The event will be held at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Thursday, September 22 from 5:00–7:45 p.m.
Her Excellency Ambassador of Sweden, Karin Olofsdotter, and Torleiv Opland, Deputy Chief of Mission, Norwegian Embassy in Washington D.C., will join the event virtually and speak on a panel. Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor of the United States will accept his 2022 Champion of Change Award and share remarks virtually.
Governor Tim Walz and First Lady Gwen Walz will provide remarks live and in person, and Mayor Jacob Frey, and Mayor Melvin Carter will serve on the “Turn the Tables” panel. MPR News Host and Senior Reporter Nina Moini will serve as emcee, and Star Tribune Editorial Writer and Columnist, John Rash, will announce the winner.
Arguing the Affirmative will be Maren Lien, senior at St. Paul Central High School and Leah Schwitzer Rodriguez, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. Arguing the Negative will be Sebastian Crea, a senior at Highland Park Senior High School, and Lillie Elizabeth Perez, a sophomore at Tartan High School, Oakdale. All are members of their schools’ debate teams, hosted by the Minnesota Urban Debate League, a program of Augsburg University.
The Affirmative team will argue that NATO expansion will provide an important bulwark of stability, democracy, and a main force for solving climate change. While the Negative team will maintain that NATO expansion provokes rather than restrains conflict, and undermines both European security, trade, and climate change mitigation.
The event is the 10th Anniversary of the Great Debate series, in which MNUDL students have performed in a debate on a timely topic and been judged by the mayors and other VIPs.
The Minnesota Urban Debate League is a program of Augsburg University that provides resources and programming to support competitive academic debate in Twin Cities high schools and middle schools. The mission of MNUDL is to empower students through competitive academic debate to become engaged learners, critical thinkers, and active global citizens who are effective advocates for themselves and their communities. Currently, MNUDL serves more than 1,000 students at 40 partner schools and has seen sustained growth in student participation since its inception in 2004, in programs including national topic policy debate, middle school debate, Spanish Debate League, East African Debate, Financial Literacy Leadership Debates, and MDAW Summer Speech & Debate Camp.
For more information, contact: Minnesota Urban Debate League, Amy Cram Helwich, (612) 359-6467, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Augsburg students benefit from world-class faculty with deep academic expertise and a love of teaching—a major reason the university is so highly ranked for undergraduate teaching.
Many Augsburg faculty are also dedicated public scholars, whose work reaches beyond the academy to shape conversations in the public square. Two recent faculty books hold broad appeal for children and parents.
Matt Maruggi, associate professor of religion and previous co-director of Augsburg’s Interfaith Scholars program, is the co-author of “Religion Around the World: A Curious Kid’s Guide to the World’s Great Faiths.” The book aims to make the world’s major faiths accessible to kids ages 8–12, sharing the complexities of different religious traditions in language young people can understand. Maruggi calls it a “gorgeous, content-heavy picture book,” with sections on Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as Native American traditions, Sikhism, Taosim, shamanism, secular humanism, interfaith families, and interfaith cooperation.
Maruggi and his co-authors Sonja Hagander and Megan Borgert-Spaniol interviewed children from different traditions about the most meaningful aspects of their faith traditions. The book highlights their perspectives as well as famous individuals (like Dorothy Day and Muhammad Ali) and organizations (like Sewa International and Bread for the World) whose religious convictions are visible in public life.
Christina Erickson, professor of social work and environmental studies, is the author of “Spanked: How Hitting Our Children Is Harming Ourselves,” a deep dive into the long-accepted practice of hitting children for learning and obedience. “Spanked” explores the historical roots, cultural supports, and social dynamics of spanking—a practice that is illegal in 62 countries, but still widely accepted here in the U.S. Erickson, who also chairs Augsburg’s social work department, comes to this topic as a social worker, a researcher, and a parent herself. In the book, she traces more than a century of research into spanking outcomes to critically assess the common narrative: “I was spanked, and I turned out fine.”
Erickson was featured by columnist Laura Yuen in a recent Star Tribune article about “Spanked.” The book gives parents, health care providers, educators, social workers, faith leaders, and anyone interested in power and family dynamics a platform to respectfully discuss what spanking communicates to children.
Local media have turned to Augsburg professor Michael Lansing for historical context as the city of Minneapolis prepares to hire a new police chief.
“Given the recent events, the murder of George Floyd as well as the uprising here in Minneapolis, there’s no question that the selection of a police chief is intensely important,” Lansing told reporter Jay Koll on KSTP’s Nightcast last week.
The three finalists for Minneapolis police chief all come from outside of Minnesota—a rarity in recent decades. “Not only is it unusual, it’s noteworthy because that only tends to happen when the city has been through some kind of intense experience around policing and public safety and police-community relations,” said Lansing, who is writing a book on the history of policing in Minneapolis. He is also the co-founder, with Dr. Yohuru Williams at the University of St. Thomas, of the “Overpoliced and Underprotected in MSP” project.
“History never repeats itself, but sometimes it rhymes,” Lansing told TPT’s Almanac. “This is one of those examples when we’re hearing some rhyming: the call for outsiders, the desperate pleas for help to change the culture that you find across the city, in communities of color, in advocacy organizations, on city council, and in the mayor’s office. And yet what’s different is that you have a rearrangement of the actual administrative structure,” with the city’s newly-appointed Commissioner of Public Safety in place.
“I think this is ground zero for police reform in the United States.”
More than 50 Augsburg University undergraduate students were named to the 2022 Summer Semester Dean’s List. The Augsburg University Dean’s List recognizes those full-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.50 or higher and those part-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.75 or higher in a given term.
Reinaldo Moya, associate professor of composition, has been named one of four 2022 McKnight Composer Fellows. Funded by the McKnight Foundation, the fellowship provides $25,000 in unrestricted support for outstanding mid-career artists living in Minnesota. He plans to use the award to record an album of his compositions, and to pursue additional training and equipment to widen his musical horizons.
A graduate of Venezuela’s El Sistema music education system, Professor Moya is the recipient of the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Van Lier Fellowship, and the Aaron Copland Award, as well as a previous McKnight Composer Fellowship. He was the winner of the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation Composer Award, leading to the commissioning of his Piano Concerto for Joyce Yang and the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. Professor Moya’s works have been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, the San Diego Symphony, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, and the New Jersey Symphony. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School with masters and doctoral degrees.
Learn more about his works at reinaldomoya.com. Congratulations, Professor Moya!
Towering over Hennepin Avenue, the black-and-white photograph of a journalist with fist raised stops people in their tracks.
The artist behind this complex, arresting image? Reggie Agyen-Boateng ’21.
Agyen-Boateng majored in sociology at Augsburg and now works professionally under the name Kusi Photography. He is one of seven artists featured in “It’s the People,” a public art installation in downtown Minneapolis coordinated by the Hennepin Theatre Trust. His portrait of independent journalist King Demetrius Pendleton was chosen to anchor the project with a multi-story billboard on 900 Hennepin Avenue for the next year.
“My participation in “It’s the People” is my way of honoring the countless victims who have lost their lives to police violence,” said Agyen-Boateng in his artist statement. “It also allows me to give back to my community in a meaningful way after the suffering that Minnesota has endured over the years.
“Working with King Demetrius Pendleton to capture his lived history in a single portrait challenged me to think about the complex layers and intersectionality of Black identities and lived experiences. This way of examining identity moved my work as an artist forward into new territory. It also became a way to document and truth-tell through images.”
Now in its fourth year, the 2022 project also features large-scale photos oftheatre artists, arts leaders creating programming with youth experiencing homelessness, concert venue staff, Indigenous restauranteurs, student artists, and queer leaders. Learn more about “It’s the People” from Hennepin Theatre Trust.
A new audio documentary from APM Reports highlights how four Indigenous college students are using higher education to strengthen ties to their Native roots and support their people. One of the students the project follows is Reuben Kitto Stately ’22. In his segment, Stately also interviews Associate Professor Eric Buffalohead, chair of American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous studies.
“I was pretty dead set on American Indian studies by the time I was in 10th grade,” says Stately. “I knew that American Indian studies would help me fill in the gaps for all the times in which I don’t understand colonization here in America—how have Native people from all these different nations all become American, in what ways have we totally assimilated, in what ways have we resisted?
“For my whole education, I have known that whatever I learn here at Augsburg, I’m going to take back to my people. To me, it’s an act of resistance because you’re able to indigenize new space or you strengthen the space that your people are already in.”
Students study abroad for many different reasons. For those who are passionate about social justice, Augsburg’s Center for Global Education and Experience (CGEE) has long offered unparalleled engagement with local communities in Mexico, Central America, and Southern Africa.
Now that portfolio includes a fourth global site in Northern Ireland.
In Spring 2023, CGEE will welcome its first cohort of students to a new semester program in the vibrant city of Derry–Londonderry. Based at Ulster University, the Conflict, Peace, and Transition program will critically examine the work of justice, reconciliation, and repair in relation to the history and legacy of the Troubles.
“This program will give students a unique opportunity to wrestle with the question of building a shared future from a divided past and to witness the hard work of reconciliation after conflict,” said Patrick Mulvihill, assistant provost for global education. Coursework will focus on understanding the politics of the Northern Ireland conflict and the transition to a sustainable democracy. Students will also participate in internships at local peacebuilding organizations and engage in field visits to Belfast, the Antrim Coast, and the border counties of Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Armagh.
Augsburg CGEE programs are open to students from any undergraduate institution. Prior to its transition to CGEE, the Conflict, Peace, and Transition in Northern Ireland program—formerly known as Democracy and Social Change in Northern Ireland–was delivered through the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA), with the first group of students participating in 2002.
“After the disruptions to study abroad over the past two years, we’re thrilled to be in a position now to expand our offerings,” said Mulvihill. “We’re particularly grateful to our program partners in Northern Ireland, whose commitment to experiential learning reinforces everything we’re about here at Augsburg.”
Augsburg University is launching a new program to beat the odds for students with foster care backgrounds. With funding for the program’s initial year from the Sauer Family Foundation, the Augsburg Family Scholars program aims to reduce students’ financial vulnerabilities, nurture their academic progress, and build community throughout their college journey.
“Students with foster care backgrounds have extraordinary strengths and capabilities. But because of the opportunity gap, less than three percent of youth who age out of foster care will earn a college degree,” said Tim Pippert, the Joel Torstenson endowed professor of sociology at Augsburg, who developed the program and will serve as its faculty mentor. “To help students succeed, we need to invest in meeting their unique needs for stability and community once they get to college.”
Augsburg Family Scholars layers comprehensive support on top of Minnesota’s Fostering Independence Higher Education Grant, a new state initiative that covers tuition, room and board, and fees for students who were in the Minnesota foster care system after age 13.
Augsburg’s program targets the complex challenges young adults with foster care backgrounds face in higher education. Participants will have access to guaranteed year-round housing, support for food and other basic needs when school is not in session, help navigating public assistance programs, and access to a laptop. The program also seeks to strengthen a sense of community from the outset, offering help moving to campus and outfitting students’ living spaces, regular cohort events, and opportunities to participate in peer mentoring and leadership activities. Academically, participants will benefit from a dedicated faculty mentor and support to explore undergraduate research programs and post-graduate options.
“College is a privilege,” said Justin Tverberg, a junior exercise science major from Hastings, MN, and a linebacker on Augsburg’s football team. “But my freshman year was the covid year, and it was a very tough time. I moved off campus sophomore year to save money. Then this new program came out, and I thought, I can get a restart on campus and enjoy my experience. Literally, my mouth dropped. This puts me in a position where I can go to college almost stress-free.”
“The state grant is a fantastic step forward, but cost is only one barrier,” said Katie Bishop, Augsburg’s vice president for student experience and success. “Augsburg Family Scholars is a promise to these students that their specific gifts and challenges are seen, valued, and supported on our campus.”
“The Sauer Family Foundation is excited to support the creation of the Augsburg Family Scholars Program to help students with foster care backgrounds not only make a successful transition from high school to college but also to complete their college degree,” said Colleen O’Keefe, executive director of the foundation.
This summer, the Sauer Family Foundation awarded Augsburg a $53,000 grant to support the initial program cohort this fall. Both new and returning students are eligible to participate.
Robert Gould, vice president for strategic enrollment management, recently spoke to Inside Higher Ed about Augsburg’s participation in a Minnesota direct admission pilot program. Through the program, students in 50 high schools will be automatically admitted to participating colleges and universities based on GPA.
This move is part of a broader shift at Augsburg from a “gatekeeper” model of admissions to an enrollment experience focused on student belonging. Going forward, Gould said, admissions counselors will have more time to spend on outreach, financial aid, and supporting students rather than evaluating them.
“Part of the mission here is supporting democracy,” he said. “This is about sharing power.”
The piece was the latest in a series on direct admissions in higher education. Read the full article in Inside Higher Ed: Direct Admissions Takes Off